ATHENS — Georgia’s game at Missouri has been postponed on account of positive tests and tracing for COVID-19 in Missouri’s program.
The contract tracing element — sitting out players who had not necessarily tested positive themselves but had exposure to a subject who did — is what led the Tigers to cancel, as it essentially wiped out an undisclosed position group.
The SEC issued a statement earlier on Wednesday:
“The Georgia at Missouri football game of November 14 has been postponed due to combination of positive tests, contact tracing and subsequent quarantining of individuals within the Missouri football program, consistent with Southeastern Conference COVID-19 management requirements.
Because Missouri has a game tentatively scheduled for December 12, the opportunity to reschedule the Georgia at Missouri game will need to be evaluated. The rescheduling of games on the remaining SEC football schedule may include December 19 as a playing date.”
The No. 12-ranked Bulldogs (4-2) and the Tigers (2-3) were set to play at noon on Saturday in Columbia in a game televised by the SEC Network.
The SEC has yet to announce a make-up date for the game. Missouri is already scheduled to play Vanderbilt on Dec. 12, the weekend the league set aside for make-up games.
The Georgia-Missouri game joins several other SEC games that have been canceled this week:
• Texas A&M at Tennessee
• Auburn at Mississippi State
• Alabama at LSU
Georgia’s next scheduled game is on Nov. 21 at home against Mississippi State.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said last week the league was considering using Dec. 19 to make up games that do not involve teams in the SEC Championship Game.
Texas A&M AD Ross Bjork told TexAGs.com that the league athletic directors decided on Tuesday that Dec. 19 is an option for teams that need to have more than one game rescheduled.
Bjork said that, unlike the NFL, the SEC can’t test out of players who are being sidelined on account of contact tracing, as opposed to testing positive for the virus.
“Right now, there is no way to test out of quarantine … ” Bjork said per the TexAgs report. “We’ve been working with the CDC — the SEC has taken the lead on that nationally. The NFL has a way to test out of contact tracing, but right now, the process has not been approved for the NCAA.”
There were reports on Tuesday that Missouri was dealing with COVID-19 issues internally and the game was at risk of being canceled.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart made it clear on Tuesday he was hopeful the Bulldogs could get the game in.
Georgia is coming off a 44-28 loss at Florida that left a sour taste in the mouths of UGA fans, as the quarterback play was atrocious.
USC transfer was the favorite to start this week for Georgia against the Tigers, creating a ripple of excitement in the fan base and bringing energy to practice, according to Smart.
“I will say this, we need a game, we want to play,” Smart said following practice on Tuesday. “If we are given the opportunity to do that, then we will. If we don’t then we have to work to get better. We get to go against each other too. We have a pretty good defense and a pretty good offense to go against each other and compete as well. So, we would love to do that.”
The SEC Office issued a policy for game cancelations in September:
“To play a football game, the SEC has established minimum thresholds of at least 53 scholarship players available to participate and the following minimum number of position scholarship players available to begin a game: seven (7) offensive linemen (which includes one center), one (1) quarterback and four (4) defensive linemen,” the SEC’s release stated. “The impacted institution has the option to play the game with fewer than the 53 scholarship players or fewer than the minimum number of position players listed above if it elects to do so. Otherwise, upon approval by the Commissioner, the game would be rescheduled or declared a no contest.
“In addition, should an institution determine there are compelling reasons why it cannot begin a contest regardless of the scholarship and position minimums above, the institution may request to have the game rescheduled or, if the game cannot be rescheduled, for the game to be considered a no contest by presenting data (including total number of players not available to participate) outlining reasons why the game should not be played as scheduled. The final decision to reschedule or declare the game a no contest is vested only with the Commissioner.”
More details as they develop